Geoff Harker’s Moccasin was in the winning mood off a higher mark at this time of year 12 months ago so he may be massively over priced at double figure odds here under the experienced Franny Norton. But he has struggled since that trio of wins last term and his form over the latter end of the season was less than inspiring to suggest he is ready to strike so he may just need the run on his season reappearance.
The David Evans trained My Lord, in contrast, looks poised and ready to strike in this field. The 8-year-old takes a drop in grade to come here today under the masterful guidance of Adam Kirby. He is a multiple winner on both surfaces on the all weather including some impressive course and distance form. The best of that form came recently when a decent second here last time out over today’s trip and he can gets the nod to go one better here today.
Neil Mulholland’s Lions Charge can fill the minor placings after a productive winter. He confirmed his good health with a decent third at Kempton over today’s trip last time out and he can give the selection the most to think about if putting his best foot forward, but he has yet to prove this 7lb higher mark for his last win is within his capabilities.
My Lord (E/W)
Ashcott Boy comes here off the back of three wins from his last four runs and his winning run only came to an end last time because of heavy ground. Neil Mulholland’s 8-year-old comes here in good order still and can give another bold showing, but he may just be in the handicapper’s grip now so it may pay to look elsewhere for the winner.
The formidable combination of trainer Jonjo O’Neil and owner J P McManus may just hold the key to this one. Oficial Ben caught the eye and went into the notebook when staying on to grab the runner up spot when last seen at Catterick back in December. He posted a career best that day and assuming he is fully wound up today he can take another step forward to land the spoils here. Capable young jockey Patrick Cowley further boosts his chances by taking off a handy 7lb claim and that should put him on he money so he gets the nod.
Bobble Boru for Venetia Williams is back below a winning mark now and so could be dangerous in this field. The yard have been in decent nick recently and the horse’s win off 2lb higher at Ffos Las on November proves he can run a big race at an ew price today also.
Oficial Ben (E/W)
Presenting Arms for the potent combination of Harry Fry and Noel Fehily could not be in better form coming into this one having won three of his last four starts and it is more impressive when you consider his overall record over hurdles of four wins from six. The horse enhanced that with a decent win on his chasing debut when accounting for a highly rated rival, but he is now has a penalty to deal with here and despite jumping fences well, he may just be vulnerable to a better handicapped rival.
One such rival could be the Evan Williams trained Zarzal. The eight-year-old caught the eye when a decent third last time on unfavoured ground and on his first run for five months. He is entitled to come on well for that effort and gets his preferred ground here and so can make a really bold bid here under jockey Adam Wedge. The horse was also prolific over hurdles last year with three wins so he looks ready to resume his winning over the larger obstacles and gets the nod at a tasty each way price here.
Henry Oliver’s Keel Haul is another who could go well at a big price. He won well over this sort of trip at both Wincanton and Cheltenham last year and is now only 2lb higher, but he may well have to settle for minor honours if the selection hits top flight.